What Degrees Are Needed to Teach History?
If you have a love for history and want to integrate it with a love of teaching, consider the following information to learn what degrees you need to teach history. Depending on the state in which you want to teach, the bachelor's degree you need may vary. You'll need at least a master's degree to teach at the postsecondary level.
Degree Needed to Teach Elementary and High School History
As an elementary school teacher, you may teach several subjects, in addition to history. You can specialize in solely teaching history in junior high or high school. To teach at an elementary or secondary level, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports you must typically have at least a bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov). All states require a license to teach at public schools. Specific educational requirements vary by state, and private schools may or may not require licensure.
As an aspiring history teacher, you might earn a degree in education, which will help prepare you for taking the state certification exams. You could alternatively earn a degree in history; if the state in which you want to teach doesn't require an education degree, you can look into how to gain licensure with your bachelor's degree in history.
Important Facts About Teaching History
|Specializations||Available by grade level, geographic region or era|
|Online availability||Fully online coursework; in-person student teaching required|
|Continuing education||Required to maintain licensure|
|Alternative careers||Museum curator, historian, archivist|
|Median Salary (2018)||$58,230 (elementary school teachers)|
$58,600 (middle school teachers)
$60,320 (high school teachers)
$74,590 (postsecondary history teachers)
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||7% (elementary teachers)|
8% (middle and high schools teachers)
10% (postsecondary history teachers)
Bachelor's Degree in Education and Bachelor's Degree in History
A bachelor's degree in early childhood or elementary education can prepare you to teach topics in history as well as other areas of study, such as math, art and literature. Within a secondary-education degree program, you can select history as your specialization. Along with the program's general requirements, you may have a set number of history-related courses to take. These courses might include European, Asian and Latin American history along with U.S. history. Your coursework also focuses on teaching methods and philosophies. You can expect to complete a field-experience or student-teaching requirement to help qualify for state licensure.
You may pursue a bachelor's degree in history, with hopes of teaching in a state that does not require a bachelor's in education. Some programs allow you to select a specific history concentration, while others allow you to participate in a teacher education program. Courses may include immigration and culture, Renaissance, U.S. history, world history and ancient civilizations.
Teaching at the College Level
If you want to continue your education and teach beyond elementary and secondary levels, you can obtain a master's or doctoral degree in history to teach at a college level. A master's degree will generally prepare you to go on to complete your Ph.D. However, if you want to teach at a community-college level, or as non-tenure assistant professor, some colleges require only a master's degree, according to the BLS.
Graduate Degrees in History
A master's program in history allows you to pick a specialization, such as U.S., women's, European or ancient history. In most history master's programs, you'll need to fulfill a foreign language requirement and complete a thesis or pass a comprehensive exam. If you have a bachelor's degree in an unrelated teaching field and want to use your master's degree in history to teach at the secondary level, your program may allow for a transition to become a secondary teacher in history.
With a Ph.D., you can expect to select fields of study, prepare a dissertation and take comprehensive exams. Most Ph.D. programs have you work with committees and several faculty members while you work on your proposal and dissertation. After completing your bachelor's degree program, you may complete both a master's program and a Ph.D. program in approximately six years.